Avoid Harming Your Puppy

Puppies are naturally curious little animals that can get into a bit of trouble if the proper precautions are not taken. Keep your puppy safe and out of danger by removing harmful products from its environment, properly caring for your puppy, and by punishing it with a firm "No" the moment an offense has occurred.


Removing Harmful Products from Its Environment

  1. Keep common household cleaners up and away. Common household cleaners like, glass and wood cleaners, disinfecting wipes, all-purpose cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and laundry detergents, emit harmful vapors. Keep your puppy safe by storing these chemicals in high cabinets, i.e., at or above eye level. You can also store these chemicals in the garage. Try not to store them in low places, like under the sink.[1]
    • Alternatively, you can buy non-toxic household cleaners. Earth Easy, Seventh Generation, and Green Works provide safe alternatives.
    • You can also make your own non-toxic cleaners. Mix ½ cup of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of castile soap, and ½ teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide for a powerful disinfectant.
    • Many laundry detergents also contain chemicals that can be harmful to your pet, especially if you wash your pet’s bedding with these detergents. Buy detergents that are non-toxic and pet friendly like, Soap Nuts Laundry Liquid or Nellie’s All-Natural Laundry detergent.
  2. Avoid using fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides also contain chemicals than can harm your puppy if it comes into contact with them. Even if you don’t use grass fertilizers, your neighbors may.
    • Instead, corn gluten is a natural and non-toxic alternative to chemically based grass fertilizers.[2]
    • If your puppy wanders into a neighbor's yard, who uses these chemicals, make sure to rinse your puppy and its paws off with water.
  3. Wash new bedding before use. Many new home furnishings, clothes, bedding material, and wood products, like wood paneling, laminated wood flooring, and wood-veneer furniture, contain formaldehyde. Formaldehyde emissions (fumes) are very harmful for your puppy.[3]
    • Protect your puppy by washing his new bedding, including bedding that will be used by your puppy, before use. Also, wash new clothing before wearing it.
    • Before placing newly bought wood furniture inside your house, let it sit outdoors for a few days to “gas out.”
    • If you plan to buy a dog house for your puppy, buy solid wood dog houses.
  4. Buy safe chew toys. Buy hard rubber or nylon toys for your teething puppy to chew on. These toys are ideal because they are practically impossible to destroy. Buy the right size toys for your puppy to ensure that your puppy does not choke on them. Your puppy should not be able to fit the whole toy in its mouth; if it can, then it is too small.[4]
    • Avoid chew toys that have small, sharp metal pieces, long strips or fibers, cooked real bones, sheets of plastic film, thin, squeaky rubber toys, and toys with foam stuffing. All of these toys are either made with materials your puppy could choke on, or, if digested, cause damage to their digestive tracts.[5]

Caring for Your Puppy

  1. Feed properly. When feeding your puppy, make sure you give them the right amount of food, as well as the proper kind of food. For example, puppies need to be fed high-quality brand name puppy food. Try to limit “people food” because this can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies and imbalances, bone and teeth problems, and obesity later on. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.[6] Here’s a guide to feeding your puppy the right amount of food:[7]
    • Eight to 12 week-old puppies need four meals a day.
    • Three to six month-old puppies need three meals a day.
    • Six months to one-year-old puppies need two meals a day.
    • Once your dog is one year old, one meal a day will suffice.
  2. Wash food and water dishes frequently. Clean your puppy's water and food dishes at least once a week. Clean them with regular soap and water. Try to avoid soap that may have chemicals that will harm your puppy, such as dish washing detergent. Make sure all the soap is removed by rinsing and drying the bowls well.
  3. Install a safe puppy gate inside and outside the home. Installing puppy gates inside the home will prevent your puppy from escaping through an opened front or back door. Gates inside the home will also prevent your puppy from going into areas of the house that are deemed unsafe. Unsafe areas can include areas that contain household plants that are poisonous to dogs, as well as areas with a lot of wiring and electric cords.[8]
    • Install gates outside that will prevent your puppy from escaping, as well as prevent other dogs from getting inside your back yard. Gates that are safe for the backyard are ones that have safety latches.
  4. Don’t feed your puppy before a car ride. Let your puppy become accustomed to the motion of the car by gradually increasing the length of the car rides. If your puppy still gets sick from car rides, even if you do not feed it, you can buy over-the-counter motion sickness drugs by the name of Meclizine, Bonine, or Antivert. Administer the medication one hour before the car ride.[9]
    • It is best to talk to your puppy’s vet before you administer these drugs. Your vet will tell you when and how much medication to administer to your puppy.
  5. Handle your puppy correctly. When handling your puppy, make sure to place your hand under your puppy’s chest, with either your forearm or other hand supporting your puppy’s hind legs and rump. Do not lift or grab your puppy by the forelegs, back of the neck, or tail. If your puppy is heavy, lift it from its underside, supporting its chest with one arm and its rear with the other.[10]
  6. Do not place your puppy on high surfaces. If you place your puppy on a surface, it may try to jump down. If it jumps from a surface that is high above the ground, it could break a bone, suffer head trauma, or even cause death in extreme situations.

Punishing Your Puppy

  1. Never hit your puppy. Puppies are naturally curious, so they might get into a bit of trouble. However, if your puppy does something you do not approve of, never resort to hitting your puppy. This can cause your puppy to become fearful, anxious, or even angry or mean itself. There are better, more effective ways to punish your puppy.
    • If your puppy gets into trouble, say a firm, “No,” and make it sit. Once it sits like you told it to, give it a treat to reward the good behavior.
    • You can also use remote correction to correct your puppy’s behavior. This is so your puppy will not associate you with the correction. For example, use a hand-held air horn to correct your puppy’s behavior. Sound off the air horn behind your back so your puppy does not see that you did it. Or, rattle a can containing coins or pebbles behind your back.[11]
  2. Administer punishment at time of the offense. Never punish your puppy after the fact. If you punish it after the fact, your puppy will have no idea why you are punishing it because the offense happened too long ago. Therefore, you will not be able to correct the behavior, and your puppy will not understand why you are punishing it.[12]
  3. Do not leave your puppy in the crate all day. Puppies confined in crates or cages for long periods may develop disturbing habits, like eating its feces. This is usually caused by boredom. If do not have any one to watch your puppy while you're at work, place your puppy and its crate inside a small room in your house. Then, create a bathroom area in the room by placing newspapers in a corner away from the crate.


  • If your puppy pulls on walks, make sure you train it to stop pulling or work with a professional trainer if you need help. You don't want your puppy to injure itself by pulling.[13]


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